2020 Presidential Candidates

List of Potential Contenders to Run Against Donald Trump

Trump oath
President Donald Trump takes the oath of office as his wife Melania holds the bible. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Call it the endless campaign, but 2020 presidential candidates are already beginning to woo voters, tap donors and build coalitions in what has become a nonstop race for the White House in modern politics. Their work began within weeks of Donald Trump taking the oath of office as the nation's 45th president. 

Here's an early look at the Democrats, and even members of Trump's own Republican Party, who are looking to unseat the controversial commander-in-chief.

Republican Donald Trump (Declared)

Donald Trump
Donald Trump financed part of his 2016 presidential campaign on his own. Scott Olson/Getty Images News

This one's pretty obvious. Or is it?

There are, of course, lots of one-term presidents — but only those who have been unceremoniously ejected from office after losing re-election. Few sitting presidents have decided to voluntarily quit the job after the first few years: James K. Polk, Calvin Coolidge and Lyndon B. Johnson

Trump might be the modern first president to call it quits after one term, his fellow Republicans speculated during his first year in the White House. 

"Four years is a long time, and especially for someone who has not spent a lifetime in politics, so I think those years affect him differently," said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in the 2016 election. "So I'm sure the president will make whatever decision is best for him and his family and the country.”

"If he runs again I would support him, yes, but I'm not so sure what will happen," Christie said.

The controversies Trump has endured, particularly the independent investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Russians to influence the election, appeared to take their toll, the president's allies suggested.

So will he or won't he run again? History and tradition suggest he will. But Trump's presidency has been anything but traditional.

Republican John Kasich

Ohio Gov. John Kasich
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former member of Congress, is a Republican who ran for president in 2016. Scott Olson/Getty Images News

Ohio Gov. John Kasich continues to be a thorn in Trump's side and is among the most prominent members of the president's own party to routinely criticize his behavior and his policies. 

There are plenty of other reasons to believe Kasich is planning to run in 2020. He's written and published a book, like many presidents have done before him. He's not allowed to run for another term as governor in 2018, so he'll be looking for another job. He never made peace with Trump and wrote in Sen. John McCain's name for president in 2016.

Also: his campaign committee is still alive and well. 

Even if Trump decides to run for a second term, it is entirely possible the president will face a challenge from within his own party, and Kasich has positioned himself as a sort of anti-Trump who appeals to mainstream members of the GOP and has lots of governing cred.

Republican Mike Pence

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is picture here speaking in 2015.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to be his running mate in the 2016 election. Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images Stringer

Yes, you read the right. Trump's right-hand man, his running-mate in 2016, his loyal defender in the White House, Mike Pence. The sitting vice president was reportedly "cultivating some of the party’s most prominent donors, courting conservative interest groups" and carefully enhancing his profiles as part of a "shadow campaign for 2020," The New York Times reported in the summer of 2017.

Pence was said to be preparing a campaign in the event Trump declined to run again, or was not able to run again.

Republican Tom Cotton

Tom Cotton
Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is said to be weighing a run for president in 2020. Alex Wong/Getty Images News

Tom Cotton is a U.S. senator from Arkansas who made headlines early in 2017 when he traveled to Iowa, home to the famed Iowa Caucuses, to attend a fundraiser for a local Republican committee. In a speech to more than 100 Republicans gathered there, Cotton said: “I’m ready for that new beginning." Many political observers believe Cotton was implying he was planning to campaign for president in 2020, but he denied it to reporters, saying he was merely looking forward to his Senate re-election campaign that year.

Republican Ben Sasse

Ben Sasse
Republican U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse is said to be considering a run for president in 2020. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Ben Sasse is a U.S. senator from Nebraska and one of the strongest Republican critics of Trump. Sasse, once described as an "arrogant academic," has been asked repeatedly whether he is planning a direct challenge to Trump, and he has not explicitly denied it. Sasse, too, has written a book, The Vanishing American Adult.

Independent Bernie Sanders (Declared)

Sen. Bernie Sanders
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Phil Roeder/Flickr.com

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a strong following, particularly among younger, more liberal members of the Democratic Party. He gave Hillary Clinton a run for her money during the intraparty battle for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination by drawing large crowds with his passionate speeches about income inequality in the corrupting influence of money in the American political system.

Democrat Elizabeth Warren (Declared)

Elizabeth Warren
Democratic U.S. Sen Elizabeth Warren is considered to be a strong choice for the presidential nomination in 2020. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren is a U.S. senator from Massachusetts who was rumored to have been on Hillary Clinton's short list of potential running mates in the 2016 election. She has earned a reputation as a consumer advocate and advocate for the middle class because of her expertise in bankruptcy and the economic pressures facing many Americans. She, like Sanders, has taken a tough stance against Wall Street. Sen. Warren officially announced her candidacy on February 9, 2019, after a contentious week of dodging flack over her disputed claim of Native American ancestry.

Democrat Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden
Vice President Joe Biden is sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in January 2013. Mark Wilson/Getty Images News

Joe Biden, a former U.S. senator who served two terms as vice president under Barack Obama, removed himself from speculation in the 2016 campaign following the death of his son Beau. But he re-emerged during Trump's first term in office after launching a political action committee, American Possibilities, “dedicated to electing people who believe that this country is about dreaming big, and supporting groups and causes that embody that spirit." Will one of those people be himself? 

Said Biden: "I haven't decided to run, but I've decided I'm not going to decide not run. We'll see what happens."

Democrat Cory Booker (Declared)

Cory Booker
Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is said to be on the short list of potential challengers to Donald Trump in 2020. Drew Angered/Getty Images

Cory Booker, a U.S. senator from New Jersey, is a former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who many believe began laying the groundwork for a 2020 candidacy when he testidied against a colleague in the U.S. Senate, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was nominated for attorney general by Trump in 2017. Booker's speech in opposition to his colleague was likened to former President Barack Obama's soaring rhetoric.

Said Booker:

“If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won’t.”

Democrat Julian Castro (Declared)

Julian Castro picture
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro gives the keynote address on day one of the Democratic National Convention in August 2012. Joe Raedle/Getty Images News

Julián Castro is a Hispanic politician and rising star in the Democratic Party. He served as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and later earned a position in President Barack Obama's cabinet. Castro has been described as the "Latino Obama" and is often described as having the potential to become the first Latino president. Castro has launched a  political action committee, “Opportunity First,” fueling speculation that he is weighing a run in 2020. 

Democrat Kamala Harris (Declared)

2020 Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris Launches Presidential Campaign. Mason Trinca / Getty Images

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, former Attorney General of California, would be the first African-American woman and the first Asian-American woman to win a major party presidential nomination. She joins Shirley Chisholm and Carol Moseley Braun as two African-American women who previously sought to run on the Democratic ticket. In announcing her candidacy, Harris noted her close relationship with party luminaries Sen. Dianne Feinstein and former Vice President Joe Biden. “I have the unique experience of having been a leader in local government, state government, and federal government,” she said regarding her credentials. “The American public wants a fighter ... and I’m prepared to do that.”

Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand (Declared)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Announces She's a Candidate for President. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Widely known for her #MeToo social media advocacy for survivors of sexual violence, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has announced an exploratory committee for a run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Announcing her candidacy on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Gillibrand stated her intention bring Democrats and Republicans together. “You have to start by restoring what’s been lost, restoring our leadership in the world,” she said. Gillibrand has state her belief that the future of the Democratic Party depends on harnessing the power of women. “I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom I am going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own,’’ she said.

Independent Howard Schultz

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Discusses His New Book in NYC. Spencer Platt / Getty Images

On January 27, 2019, Howard Schultz, recently retired CEO of Starbucks Coffee, announced his intention to run for president as an independent centrist candidate. A superstar in the business world, Schultz led a 1980s seven-store Seattle coffee chain to the worldwide empire it is today. “When I hear people espousing free government-paid college, free government-paid health care, and a free government job for everyone—on top of a $21 trillion debt—the question is, how are we paying for all this and not bankrupting the country?” he told the New York Times. Since his announcement, Schultz has faced an avalanche of criticism from Democrats who say his candidacy, thought doomed to failure, might help President Trump win a second term.

Democrat John Delaney (Declared)

John K. Delaney, U.S. Representative from Maryland
John K. Delaney, U.S. Representative from Maryland. United States Congress / Public Domain

A U.S. Representative from Maryland, John K. Delaney calls himself a “solutions-oriented moderate” who received the top score of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign for his support of equality-related legislation. “No one should be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love,” he stated of the rating. Delaney has stated that if elected, he would support an increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 23% “to raise about $200 billion for infrastructure.”

Tulsi Gabbard (Declared)

US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Tulsi Gabbard speaks at Bernie Sanders 'A future to believe in San Francisco. Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

Tulsi Gabbard, a U.S. Representative from Hawaii, strongly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and led protests against it arguing that it would largely benefit multinational corporations at the expense of American workers while actively contributing to threats to the environment, such as global warming. Gabbard supports universal health care, making community college tuition-free for all Americans, and increasing the hourly federal minimum wage to $15 nationwide. 

Democrat Amy Klobuchar (Declared)

US Senator Amy Klobuchar
Sen. Klobuchar addresses Pro-Equality Members of 116th Congress. Getty Images Entertainment

First elected in 2006, Amy Klobuchar is the Senior U.S. Senator and first female Senator from Minnesota. Considered a “rising star” of the Democratic Party, her political positions have generally been along liberal lines. She supports LGBT rights and the full restoration of Obamacare, and is strongly pro-choice on abortion. Due to her staunch support of Roe v. Wade, Klobuchar opposed President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Democrat Beto O'Rourke

Beto O'Rourke
Beto O'Rourke speaks onstage at Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations. Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

Beto O'Rourke served as a U.S. Representative from Texas from 2013 to 2019. He gained nationwide notoriety and significant support among Democrats when he almost unseated heavily-favored Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in the 2018 Texas Senate race. Saying he does not know exactly where he falls on the political spectrum, O'Rourke had been variously classified as a progressive, liberal, or centrist. In Congress, has sponsored bipartisan bills as well as broken with his party on issues like trade. He has been given an 88% rating by the American Civil Liberties Union, but only a 44% rating from the more conservative United States Chamber of Commerce.

Updated by Robert Longley